We’re still going through a pandemic and I’m sure this year has affected mental health for a lot of us. We’re feeling more emotions, anxiety, and worries in general. I found that I’ve had to work harder at taking care of myself and finding my inner calm, grounding myself so that my mind and emotions aren’t all over the place. Today, I wanted to check in with you all. How are you feeling? What are you doing to take care of yourself? If you’re feeling off, I want to remind you to go back to the basics. Ask yourself: Am I nurturing my body, mind, and soul?
Here are 12 positive habits that I’ve been doing lately to stay healthy and sane during quarantine. If you’re not feeling your best, this is a great checklist to use and see if you’re taking care of all the important things.
First, remember to take care of your body. Don’t overlook the basics. Are you getting good sleep? Good quality sleep is something so essential that we often neglect. Maybe you don’t prioritize sleep because you want more hours in your day. Or maybe if you’re like me, you have trouble falling asleep because of anxiety or your overthinking brain. Regardless, poor sleep is linked to mental health issues. So if you’re not feeling so great, working on improving your sleep is a great place to start. Good sleep puts you in a better mood. And the health benefits are endless: reducing stress, improving brain function (like concentration and memory), lowering your blood pressure, and improving your immune system, which we all need right now.
Next, are you drinking a lot of water? Water, like sleep, is one of the essentials for our body. Drinking water improves your brain function, bodily functions, energy levels, and mood. Do you have water next to you right now? When was the last time you took a sip? I’ve made it a habit of mine to always have two to three water bottles next to me at all times so that I’m constantly drinking water throughout the day. I love water, but I know not everyone does.
Next, make sure you’re eating whole foods every day. Whole foods mean food that’s in its original form, straight from nature: typically whole fruits, veggies, whole grains, et cetera. These foods are healthier and packed with nutrients and fiber that your body needs to function well. In today’s age, it’s too easy to eat processed foods like fast food, pasta, or snacks for their convenience and taste. I get it because I eat these things too. But understand that when you eat processed foods, you’re not giving your body what it needs. So make it a habit to include whole foods into your daily routine. I love making a fruit bowl for my first meal every day. It’s so good. And I also feel good knowing that I’m nurturing my body rather than hurting it.
Another foundational habit is to move your body every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. If you’re ever feeling down, ask yourself: Have I moved my body lately? Have I exercised or danced, even broken a sweat? We are energetic beings, and sometimes we hold emotions in our bodies. Moving your body allows you to use your energy and release anything that’s been pent up within. You also sleep better that way. Lately, I’ve been walking around the neighborhood with my mom to encourage her to exercise more. And if I’m feeling up for it, I’ll do some yoga and sometimes a short circuit workout. A bonus tip is to use TV time to multitask. While you’re watching TV, you can use that time to stretch or move your body, so at least you’re doing something physical instead of being a full-on couch potato.
Moving on to the next category: your mind. My favorite form of mental self-care is to journal out my emotions and thoughts. Sit down and journal out all your worries and anxieties. Don’t judge or filter yourself. Just let it all flow out authentically and write until you have nothing left to say. It honestly feels so good. It’s always better to face your fears and emotions than to avoid them. Face them so that you know what they are. From there, you can decide whether this is something you have control over or something you could change. If so, what do you need to do? And if it isn’t, how can you accept this, surrender, and let go? A habit that I’ve started implementing more this year is to limit mental clutter from media and technology. I’ve spent way too many hours mindlessly scrolling Instagram, Twitter, TikTok. And I find that whatever I consume leaves an impact on my mood and emotions. There’s a balance between staying informed and not overdoing your media consumption, not letting those external stories affect your inner mental world. Don’t take on more mental or emotional baggage than you need to. Stay informed, do what you can, and then let the rest go. What’s helped me is putting a time limit on my social media apps. On the iPhone, you can find these settings under screen time. You should also batch your technology time, like checking your email at a certain time, instead of sporadically throughout the day. I also set a phone curfew for myself, two to three hours before bedtime. 11:00 PM, my apps are all disabled and I’m reminded to get off of my phone. So I spend the next couple of hours unwinding, relaxing, and getting ready for bed, which also helps my sleep. All of these changes have led to more mental space and inner peace in my life.
Next, nurture your mind with positive affirmations and self-talk. Sometimes we forget this, but we get to choose our thoughts. Our thoughts are so powerful because they influence our words and actions, and thus our life. Thoughts become things. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have negative thoughts at all. But instead that you acknowledge all the thoughts you have, and then choose to feed your mind with positivity and love. What you feed grows, so feed your mind with positive affirmations and reminders like “I am safe. I am worthy. I am enough. I’m going to be okay.” I keep notes on my phone with positive affirmations and mindsets, and I read them every single day. The more you repeat these affirmations to yourself, the more you will grow to believe them.
Another healthy habit for your mind is practicing daily gratitude for what do you have. No matter where you are in the world or life, there’s always something to be grateful for. The power you have is learning to focus on that which you have, rather than that which you have not. We’re so much happier and fulfilled when we focus on gratitude. Practicing daily gratitude is simple. Find pockets of time where you can express your gratitude to yourself and the people around you. Each day, note down a few things that you’re grateful for and be specific. Or you can also reflect on your gratitude at night before bed. You can never have too much gratitude in life. Like love, it’s boundless.
Lastly, always remember to take care of your soul. Cultivate your relationship with your inner self through meditation or any mindful practice that allows you to connect to your soul, like going out in nature. Meditation is my way to center myself, detach from my mind and emotions, and connect to the stillness within. Your soul is invincible and unwavering. It is quiet, but it is always there. The mind is loud, and so it always gets our attention. The soul is quiet, so oftentimes we forget to feel it. So take a deep breath right now, and remember that you are alive. You’re conscious of yourself and the words that I’m writing in this article. That is a miracle and a gift that can’t be bought. So revel in this amazing feeling of simply being alive.
Another positive habit for your soul is consistent human connection. I was originally going to say “connect with your loved ones often”, but this connection doesn’t even have to be with loved ones. Even talking to a stranger can serve this purpose. I believe human connection is necessary for our soul. And that’s become even more apparent this year. We craved to be seen, to be heard, to belong. We crave connection, understanding, and support. We crave love. These are all parts of being human. We can’t ignore that, without these things, our lives wouldn’t be fulfilling. You can have all the riches and worldly abundance, but if you have no one to share your life with, then that would be tragic. We need connection and love, now more than ever.
The next habit is to express yourself through a creative outlet. Having any sort of creative outlet allows you to focus your mind and tap into flow and intuition. Humans are meant to create. The medium doesn’t matter. It can be music, art, writing, cooking, or even creative problem-solving. Creativity simply fills our souls. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be good at the craft. Creativity is just about expressing yourself and having fun. No judgments.
Finally, be kind and gentle with yourself. We’re often too hard on ourselves. Either we put too much pressure on ourselves because we’re perfectionists and hold ourselves to high expectations, or we’re hard on ourselves because we feel insecure and not good enough. The truth is: We are usually our own worst critics. Building a better relationship with yourself begins with cultivating self-love. Treat yourself with love and compassion, as you would your closest friend because you are the one that you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with. So you should always be your number one supporter. Believe in yourself, encourage yourself, give yourself the love and approval that you crave. The more you practice self-love, being kind to yourself, and forgiving yourself, You will realize just how worthy you are, as you are. And if you can truly feel that, you’ll be in harmony with your soul. So whenever you’re feeling down, remember to nurture your body, mind, and soul.
Thank you so much for reading this. Love you all so much, and I hope that you feel much, much better with your mental health and that you take care of yourself, body, mind, and soul. Bye!